Monday, February 13, 2012

Watching what others are watching - video online

Crack this and you'll probably be in line for a Nobel. You'll also have removed one of the biggest untold mysteries of our time: How does a film/video maker know without a shred of doubt that you'll like what you're about to be shown?

Hollywood's made an industry of it and various scientists and cognitvist continue in their quest to bottle  that elusive quality.  To keep up with changing habits of viewers and vice versa film makers invent and reinvent all sorts of techniques.

Behaviourism - how you behave experiencing a film, and then within a group and then as a society provides the biggest clues for film and TV when they document BARB, RAJAR figures. But these methods can be flawed.

Yet if I can present a shot of a door bathed in shadows and strike a g minor or d chances are I'll make you scared. This is a general mannerism.

In news making, editors choose an item to show based on their experience or gut feeling it will work for the viewer or, and that the viewer needs to know this.

At Sky News and several other networks, a news ticker shows what's popular which impacts upon the broadcaster to eventually make the film.

Yet while Sky knows what the viewers are demanding, it does not uniequivocally know the process how they came to appreciate what they're watching. It perhaps doesn't want to, other than knowing the viewers ARE watching.

What exactly is going on in your head that signifies the intent to like a film? That's what makes the above research so exciting, but also for us and marketers very troublesome.

In a now famous incident, a British Satarist and producer  Chris Morris inserted a one frame insult into his show, Brass Eye, calling his boss Michael Grade a C**T.

Some viewers at the time couldn't work out why they felt strange at the end of the show. When reviewing the show some spotted the offending word and made the connection.

The art of making video and films is based on a complex number of factors that we often attempt to delineate into tips which often work, but in ten years time when they crack the above, it may well be that you can produce Spielbergs and Murrows and Walkers of an assembly line.

A different sort of film maker will be born. Perish the thought.

David Dunkley Gyimah, a Doctoral Student at the SMARTlab, University College Dublin is investigating aspects of how to produce engaging programmes and can be contacted here